Challenging terms such as ‘natural’ is difficult, but the Real Bread Campaign’s win against the chain proves it can be done
When it comes to labelling, food retailers run rings around their customers, and mainly get away with it. They weave a lexicon of feelgood terms – “fresh”, “handmade”, “artisan”, “local”, “farmhouse”, “healthy”, “natural” – into their marketing messages, which just happens to encourage us to assume that two and two makes five, or even six or seven. It’s known as the halo effect: by highlighting one appealing selling point you erect an canopy of goodness around the entirety of the product, irrespective of whether it is merited.
Challenging such terms is tough. Regulations covering them are sketchy and open to legal argument on a case-by-case basis, which makes the Real Bread Campaign’s latest victory against the Pret a Manger chain all the more impressive.